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Summer Reading Tips To Prevent ‘Summer Brain Drain’

The Huffington Post – Stephanie Dua and Keith Meacham

“Summer’s here, and even though school is out, experts recommend that even the youngest children should practice their reading every day. According to the National Summer Learning Association, many children lose ground over the summer. The research shows that low-income students are at particular risk. While gaps in student achievement remain relatively constant during the school year between low and middle income students, those gaps widen significantly during the summer. Some children lose two-to-three months in reading. As moms, educators and the creators of Learn With Homer, the #1 Learn to Read program, we spend our days thinking about how to make literacy learning fun and effective for young children. Here we’d like to offer a few simple tips to keep kids learning even in these lazy days of summer:”(more)

Why Kids Need Unstructured Play—And Why They’re Not Getting It

Independent Women’s Forum – Rachel DiCarlo Currie

“…here’s what a team of researchers from the University of Virginia concluded after studying changes in U.S. public-school kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010: Our findings suggest a shift toward more challenging (and potentially more engaging) literacy and math content. However, they also highlight a concerning drop in time spent on art, music, science, and child-selected activities…As the UVA team indicated, there are potential benefits to the new regime. Yet it is indeed troubling that, in their eagerness to make kindergarten more “academic,” teachers and administrators seem to be reducing opportunities for children to explore their imaginations, improve their creativity, and cultivate key social skills…All of this has implications for children’s brain development. “The experience of play”—unstructured play, that is—“changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” University of Lethbridge scientist Sergio Pellis has explained. “And without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed.”…The bottom line is that, far from being a frivolous distraction, unstructured play is an essential complement to classroom instruction.”(more)

Summertime play enhances school year learning

Faribault Daily News – Gloria Olson

“Signed the kids up for lots of activities this summer? Driving them here and there for sports, lessons and other structured activities? Good for you … maybe. Just so you leave plenty of time for play. The most ambitious research study ever confirms the importance of physical activity for brain health, especially the thinking skills that most affect academic performance. It’s even been shown that math and reading test scores rise when children go for a brisk walk beforehand. Sports teams can provide some of that physical activity as long as there’s not too much prescribed play and bench time. But old-fashioned running, jumping, chasing and similar free-time activities have the most benefit.”(more)

The government says kids need an hour of movement a day. Actually, they need a lot more.

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss/Angela Hanscom

“Movement equals health is one of those equations as indisputable as the sun equals light. But there are two important variables that rarely factor into this formula: the type of movement and how much. For children, it’s a lot more than you think. The U.S. government’s recommendation of 60 minutes of vigorous movement a day for children, combined with healthy eating, is great for decreasing the risks of obesity and heart disease, among other chronic diseases. But children today have symptoms of other alarming problems, such as weaker bones and muscles, emotional instability and anxiety, surprising episodes of aggression, the inability to focus and pay attention, and problems “sitting still” compared to children of just two decades ago. Know what helps with all of these? Movement. And a lot of it!…Children need at least three hours of outdoor play on a daily basis in order to foster healthy sensory and motor development. Children need opportunities to go upside down, climb trees, run as fast as they can, use their imagination, test their strength, care for each other’s scraped knees, roll, climb, balance and even spin in circles. All of these activities use their brain, activate their muscles both big and small, and engage the senses. This lays the foundation for being able to pay attention, listen and learn in a classroom setting.”(more)

10 ways to help kids fall in love with being outside

The Washington Post – Lauren Knight

“Spring is in full swing: The buds on the trees have opened, birds are chirping, and children are eager to go outside and get muddy. Unless, that is, they are like the fourth-grader author Richard Louv spoke to for his book “Last Child in the Woods.” “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” the child told Louv. According to extensive research Louv and others have conducted since the 1980s, spending time in nature has tremendous benefits, including improved concentration, better motor coordination, improved overall cognitive functioning and a greater ability to engage in creative play. It has also been said to help with the symptoms of mental illness…So how do we get them out there, particularly those who are used to being inside, plugged in or shuffled from one structured, adult-led activity to the next? Here are 10 ways to get children excited about spending more time outside and how to make it fun for everyone.”(more)

The Solution To Childhood Obesity Is Nothing New

The Huffington Post – Lianne Castelino

“Obesity is an epidemic. This is NOT new. The rates of diabetes are skyrocketing. This too is NOT new. The societal and financial burden of obesity — which leads to a litany or is the pre-cursor to a host of other serious medical conditions, including: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, among others — IS MASSIVE and MOUNTING…Without a medical or nutrition degree, just plain old common sense, obesity, in my opinion, is as much about what you eat as how much you exercise…Instead of building obesity camps for kids, widening bathroom stalls and airplane seats, instead of accepting the problem — let us harness our energy into the symptoms and address them one by one. Chances are some of those “crazy concepts” that worked more than 30 years ago could actually have merit. They certainly had a proven track record then.”(more)